Kimberly Braun, first-year, and Lucas Neher, sophomore, have a good reason to be smiling. Braun and Neher were officially elected Student Senate Co-Presidents for the next three semesters at Gustavus during last Monday’s Student Senate election.
Overall, the election had one of the best turnouts in recent history.
“I was very pleased,” said Erin Koppang, chair of the Campaign Ethics Committee. “So many first-years and sophomores turned out to vote. In the election last fall, the sophomore and junior classes had the highest turnouts, but the first-years really stepped it up this spring. This is the first semester that a first-year student has been able to run for Co-President, and that may have helped to get younger students engaged.
All-in-all, nearly one third of the campus voted on Monday, and while we’d always like to see that number get even higher, I think everyone involved with the election was pleased.”
“This was the biggest turnout for the co-president elections in years,” said Braun. “Over 1,000 students voted, which is twice as many students [than] typically vote.”
Braun and Neher won over opponents Justin Martin, sophomore Political Science major, and Chad Allen, sophomore Psychology major, by an 8-point margin. After a long month of campaigning, knocking on doors, tabling outside the Marketplace and hanging signs in almost every bathroom, Braun and Neher feel that their hard work has paid off.
“I really felt we had the better platform,” said Neher. “We put ourselves out with the student body and our campaign. People knew who we were.”
First-year Abby Williams saw Braun and Neher as better candidates because of their hard work.
“I feel that [Martin and Allen] tried less,” she said. “I think that both pairs were great candidates. I just think that Kim and Lucas were the better choice.”
After Monday’s election results came in, Martin and Allen wished Braun and Neher congratulations on a good race.
“The Senate is a unified body,” noted Martin. “We feel it’s important to put the election behind us so that we can continue to move forward.”
Braun and Neher begin their term at Monday night’s Senate meeting when current Co-Presidents Tony Spain and Chris Edelbrock pass the gavel down to them.
“We really plan on going into [Monday’s meeting] with a clear vision on what Senate means to students,” said Braun. “There will be a clear mission statement for our three semesters in office. We want to make sure that the senators have a sense of duty to their constituents.”
Braun added the importance of creating an effective Student Senate because the overall image of the Senate among students has not always been a positive one. Many students, like First-Year Patrick McDougle, find themselves questioning the importance of Student Senate.
“I did not vote,” said McDougle. “Why should I vote about something that I don’t even know about? The only time I hear about these things is when [Student Senate] holds elections.”
One major student question is how they can receive money from the Senate. Braun noted that a handbook available at the SAO desk would clear any confusion on how to approach the Senate. “We want to work right away to put Senate into people’s everyday life,” said Neher.
As Braun and Neher look forward to their next three semesters in office, they added their thanks to Gustavus students for electing them into the co-presidency. “With that big of a turnout [for the election], it’s easy to see that students want change. People really relate to our platform,” said Neher. “Thanks for voting for us.”
Photo By: Sarah Cartwright